THE PADSTOW "HOBBY-HORSE." [a]
AT the time of the spring festival, which is observed at Helston as a revel in honour, probably, of Flora, and hence called the "Furry-day," and by the blowing of horns and gathering of the "May" in St Ives and other places, the people of Padstow were a few years since in the habit of riding the "hobby-horse" to water. This hobby-horse was, after it had been taken round the town, submerged in the sea. The old people said it was once believed that this ceremony preserved the cattle of the inhabitants from disease and death. The appearance of a white horse escaping from the flood which buried the Lionesse, is told at several points, on both the north and south coast, and the riding of the hobby-horse probably belongs to this tradition. In support of this idea, we must not forget the mermaid story associated with the harbour of Padstow.
The water-horse is a truly Celtic tradition. We have it in the "Arabian Nights," and in the stories of all countries in the south of Europe. Mr Campbell, "West Highland Tales," says he finds the horse brought prominently forward in the Breton legends, and that animal figures largely in the traditions of Scotland and Ireland.
Has the miners' phrase --" a horse in the lode," applied to a mass of unproductive ground in the middle of a mineral lode; or, "Black Jack rides a good horse," signifying that zinc ore gives good promise for copper -- anything to do with these traditions?
[a] See Appendix P.